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by Katrina Devlin
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Abigail Mason is caught in a changing world poised on the edge of revolution. She is passionately involved in the patriotic cause running rampant through the colonies. When Sir Thomas Chisholm, a physician from England, arrives unexpectedly at her home in the upper New York colony, Abby is instantly but reluctantly attracted to the stern young Englishman. Although she has vowed to hate all who sustain tyranny, her heart is captured by the arrogant visitor who shares her love of healing. Thomas has no misgivings about his own heart. He is smitten from the moment she tumbles off his coach in her efforts to rob him, and he is determined to have the rebellious redheaded Patriot for his own. If you like witty prose and spanking stories, this book is for you! For adults only.
eBook Publisher: Newsite Web Services Publishing, 2006 2006
eBookwise Release Date: August 2008
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [246 KB]
Reading time: 150-211 min.
Bristol, England, Early March 1774
Sir Thomas Chisholm found himself in the unenviable position of having to extricate himself tactfully from an awkward situation with the daughter of his most honored colleague.
Dr. William Gaines, Captain in his Majesty King George's Royal Regiment and an eminent physician in the city of London had only one daughter, and the Mistress Arabella Gaines was a definite force to be reckoned with, especially among her many young beaus. Thomas was not one of those youthful fellows, yet the fulsome beauty with the thick blond curls and light blue eyes had decided that he should be.
"Really, Thomas," the young lady said in a cajoling tone as she planted a delicate hand on his arm. "How can you be so cruel. You're dreadfully mean to me. Papa would be ever so upset with you."
Thomas looked down at the fairylike sprite at his side. There was the barest trace of tears on her cheek, and for a moment he thought he had actually caused her some pain. Then he spied the gleam of satisfaction in her eyes, and he straightened his back. The little minx was playing with him.
"Bella, don't pretend to feelings you don't have," he told her sternly. "I mean no more to you than this piece of stone here." He jerked his thumb toward a boulder that stood near the path.
"But, Thomas, why can't you take me with you?" The big blue eyes filled as she tilted back her head.
"Basically, because I respect your father and have no need of a baggage, however pretty, on this voyage."
"You all but promised to marry me," she pouted.
"I think not, Bella, but there are plenty of candidates for marriage among your entourage," he said dryly. "Choose one of them."
"Ohhh," she squealed, stamping her foot. "I hate you. And, I hate the government for sending you to the heathen colonies."
"It isn't the government that's sending me, Bella," he corrected. "It's my father, that heathen lord with the family in those same heathen colonies."
"Well, I wish you a bad journey," she snapped, tossing her head and sending a barrage of curls into his chest "And, I hope you fall in love with one of those awful colonists, and she dances barefoot at your wedding."
"Thank you, Arabella," Thomas said as he inclined his head. "I do so appreciate your kind words. And, if my barefoot bride steps on my foot, it won't hurt at all. I'll probably enjoy it." Turning on his heel, he set off toward the dock where the vessel awaited that would transport him to America, to his stepmother's sister in the Kinderhook region of New York Colony and to his young sister Mariah, who had once again embroiled him in one of her escapades, albeit unwittingly.
Arabella Gaines watched him leave with vexation etched across her pretty features. His tall figure was easy to follow as he mingled with the crowds on the wharf.
Big, boring oaf, she thought. But, he was so handsome, and his family was rich. She had hoped for an adventure.
Little chit, he thought. Where she ever got the idea that he was planning to take her with him across the ocean, he'd never know.
"Chisholm!" her shriek made him glance back up the sloping path.
Arabella stood there, arms akimbo, a wide, mocking smile on her face.
"Barefoot," she called. "A barefoot, savage bride." She stamped once for emphasis and winced as a pebble pierced the sole of her delicate slipper.
Shaking his head ruefully, Thomas laughed back at the petulant girl and bowed deeply.
Barefoot bride, indeed.
The young nobleman enjoyed the comforts of his class, but he was also a skilled physician. He had studied medicine at Oxford, and since his eldest brother Toby was the heir to their father's estate, Thomas had felt free to pursue a profession in healing.
His father had not been averse to the idea.
"We Chisholms have always been dedicated folk," he would say. "Indeed, why not be a doctor? It is the most honorable act, to save a person's life. Never be ashamed of honest work, my boy, even if you need not earn a living."
Thus, the younger son had become a physician and set up a bustling country practice at Chisholmshire, the seat of the family manor. Thomas was content with his stone farmhouse and the few acres of park that surrounded it; he enjoyed the quiet life and preferred his fairly peaceful rural existence to that of a city doctor any time. He was happy in his isolated corner of the lake country, but still, he wouldn't have missed this golden opportunity to meet a possible barefoot bride in a heathen faraway land.
It was really Lord William Chisholm's fatherly concern that forced his hand. His father and stepmother's only child Mariah had accompanied her Aunt Anne back to the colonies. Now, with the threat of war imminent and colonial unrest everywhere, his father was worried about sixteen year old Mariah and had dispatched him to fetch her back to England.
The few maids and ladies on the ship surveyed the handsome young physician surreptitiously as he stood alone on the deck. Not one for fancy wigs or ostentatious clothing, he wore a simple brown frock coat with a fine linen shirt and smooth fawn colored breeches. His boots were polished Italian leather, and his shoulder length mane of chestnut hair was tied back with a simple piece of cord. Sir Thomas Chisholm, twenty-nine years old and a most eligible bachelor, stood at the railing, oblivious to the admiring glances cast his way. He watched the lush green hills of his beloved English countryside recede as The Delphi Oracle sailed toward a new world and an untapped future.
The sea green of his eyes reflected the sparkling depths of the water as white spray flew against the bow, casting a sheen of wetness over his finely chiseled features. He was mesmerized by the cresting waves and rocking of the ship, and his heart quickened in anticipation. He had to admit it, he was looking forward to this adventure. * * * *
Upper New York, American Colonies, May 1774
The craggy hill overlooked a majestic valley that was blossoming with goldenrod, wild daisies, and mountain violets. It was a beautiful place. On the hilltop, a girl was lying on her back, her smoky gray eyes trained on the soaring shadow of an eagle in the skies above. She was thinking how beautiful the clouds were and how much she loved the spring of the year. She was also thinking about Aaron and the recent bad luck that had befallen him. Her reckless twin brother had been thrown from an untamed horse and had suffered a broken arm, a twisted ankle, and several cracked ribs. He was bedridden.
While Abigail Mason was concerned for her brother, she was also worried about the cause. Aaron was an integral part of the Kinderhook Resistance, an underground cabal that was designed to bring hardship to the Redcoats quartered only twenty miles north of the valley. Mostly, they instigated petty annoyances, meant to build up toward major problems as the frustrations persisted and tempers flared among the arrogant Tory officers. Loosed horses, waylaid grain and food wagons, overturned barrels of water and ale, stolen clothes, utensils and pans. The Resistance sent scouting parties of a few to wreak havoc in the various campsites around the towns. With Aaron laid up, who would take his place, she mused.
Bartholomew Tyler was expecting Aaron at a KR meeting later that afternoon. Aaron was morose, lying in his comfortable bed with his swollen ankle elevated on a mound of silken cushions and his pupils dilated by a dose of laudanum administered with loving care by his mother. Abigail knew that Bart would understand her brother's predicament, but Aaron had stubbornly refused to send word to his comrade.
"Abby, they'll think I'm just another spoiled rich landowner," he had muttered that afternoon.
"Aaron, you don't own any land," she pointed out dryly. "You're merely working Father's land."
"You know what I mean," he snapped, insulted by her bald truthfulness. "Bart will have to make excuses for me, God, I hate that."
"Rest now," she murmured as his eyes drooped closed.
Her brother was a spitfire. Long and lanky with a mop of copper colored curls, he looked like the flame of resistance that he was. Although somewhat volatile, he had a good and honest heart and was madly in love with Mary Harrison, a Kinderhook girl with long dark curls and brown eyes whose father was the local magistrate. Aaron was very handsome, as Mariah was wont to say in coquettish whispers. Mama had just brought their cousin back from England for a visit and while Abby loved the younger girl's enthusiasm for everything under the sun, she was getting tired of the teenaged idolatry for her twin.
"Ooooh, he looks like Adonis," Mariah would squeal.
"He looks like me," Abby said flatly. "I'm two minutes older, and he looks like me, and I do not resemble a Greek god in any way, Mariah."
At eighteen, Abby Mason had a good head on her shoulders and a reputation for being outspoken. And, if the truth were told, she did look much more like a Greek goddess than a god.
Her long, fire-colored curls were swept back with a wide ribbon that matched the azure sky above. Her eyes were the deep hue of smoke on a wintry day fringed with long sooty lashes that were the envy of her three sisters and every girl around. Her blue linen dress was accented with a soft cream muslin scarf around her shoulders, and she wore an embroidered apron around her waist that she had thrown on during bread baking that afternoon. Actually, there was still a smudge of flour on her freckled nose.
She didn't usually like domestic chores, but today they had baked bread for the poor folk who lived in the shantytown on the other end of the valley. Their housekeeper, Emma McDougal, had enlisted all of their help, even Mariah had tried her hand at what clearly was a foreign act to her. Abby had seen the deplorable condition of some of the shacks when she accompanied her father on his rounds. For the sake of those poor people, she had gladly donned an apron and tried her best to knead a proper loaf.
Mariah was sitting with Aaron now. The younger girl was only too happy to read to her captive cousin.
Abby wondered what she should do about Bart and the scheduled meeting? Papa was at the Apothecary, and Mama was sewing with her lady friends. She gazed up into the unruffled azure sky, and her eyes followed the path of the soaring eagle.
The eagle is free, she thought. And so are we. Deep sentiments filled her being, and she wanted to rise up, to fly like the bird of prey, his quarry sighted and within striking reach--to glide and to transmute the boundaries of ordinary, normal life. She, as well as Aaron, embraced the spirit of independence that was the undercurrent of their world.
"I'll do it," she said fiercely to the sky. "I'll be my brother."
In a moment, she was up and running toward Rebel, her gelding that was grazing peacefully in the meadow.
"Here, boy," she whistled as she ran. With a whoop, she was flying up onto his back, her skirts billowing behind her. * * * *
Bart Tyler surveyed the faces of the men before him. In the dim light of the barn, it was hard to see their expressions, but they all cheered when he gave them the results of last week's raids.
"That redcoat Perry is planning to reconnoiter the areas above Albany, closer to Saratoga for a possible camp. We've roused them good, lads!"
Aaron Mason slammed his fist into the air with the others but his characteristic banshee yell was curiously missing.
Bart raised his eyebrow, but then shrugged, maybe the younger man was still mooning for Mary Beth Harrison who had recently been seen in the company of young Devon McNeil.
"We've learned that a British doctor is on his way to our parts, no offense to the medical profession, but we don't need no doctors fixing up them we want gone from here."
The three faces looked at him expectantly.
"Make his journey less than comfortable, mates," Bart bellowed. "If he's heading toward the camp, be sure he gets there a few pounds lighter in his purse."
"Rob him?" Aaron's voice sounded like a squeak.
"Yes, rob him, Mason," Bart shook his head. "Got a problem with that?"
The younger man shook his head, looking down.
Damn, thought Abby, this was not going to be easy. Stealing seemed so criminal; she had always thought the KR did noble things for the cause of independence.
She followed the other two men silently. Their ride down the valley was mostly quiet, she laughed gruffly when her companions' ribald humor warranted it and answered in low monosyllables when necessary. It was nearly dusk when she spotted the coach.
"We'll take the driver and anyone else, you take the good doctor, Mason," said Emmett Homer, the older of the two.
It happened so quickly. Emmett and Jake Knowles surprised the driver and groom and knocked them off the swiftly moving coach. The last thing Abby saw was the driver lying on the dirt road while his young servant cowered before the masked horsemen.
God damn me, she cursed like a sailor in her mind as her heart pounded out of control. She swung onto the driver's seat from Rebel's back and seized the reins, expertly slowing down the agitated team. Abby knew how to handle horses. The pair of beasts stopped in a dark copse of trees, and she hopped off to confront the inhabitant.
"Throw your valuables out the window," she growled in her deepest voice through the coach window. "I'm armed and dangerous."
Her mouth was dry with fear, and she squealed when the coach door slammed open into her chest, knocking her back onto the ground.
"What the devil is going on," an aristocratic voice preceded one fine leather boot. And then the other appeared to stand right on top of her, pinning her to the ground. She looked up into the face of one of the most handsome men she had ever seen.
"You, boy, what goes on here?" the boot nudged her in the side, and she blushed at the indignity of her position. She was a prisoner of his boots. The intelligent green eyes squinted as he leaned over her. "You're no boy. And, I daresay you're not armed and dangerous either, eh?"
Again, he nudged her.
She sneered at him as best she could under the circumstances.
She was mortified. She vowed to kill her brother for somehow being responsible for this whole mess.
"Little chit of a girl," he laughed, bending down and lifting her up as though she were a feather. "Someone ought to take a strap to you for this bit of tomfoolery. What's your name, lawbreaker?"
She glared at him, mutinously keeping her mouth shut. When she didn't answer him, he shook her and yanked the wide brimmed hat off her head. A cascade of red curls tumbled down her back, and he whistled.
"Little firebrand, I see. Well, have you noticed that your comrades in crime have abandoned you? You seem to be quite alone with a stranger on a dark road. Doesn't seem very safe, does it."
Abby looked into his face. He sounded as though he was joking, but his eyes were very serious and stern.
Steeling herself against the underlying tone of concern in his voice, she spat into the dirt with all the hostility and disdain she could muster and at the same time thrust one hard fist into his stomach.
He merely winced at her blow. His eyes narrowed as he yanked her closer.
"Young ladies who behave like ruffians should be treated as such. You need a lesson in deportment, lass."
She was confused when he dragged her over to the bushes on the side of the road and broke off a long, limber switch. She recoiled in dread when she realized he was stripping off the leaves. She knew exactly what he was doing; she had seen her father do it enough times.
"You can't," she cried, breaking her silence. "You mustn't."
"Ahh, Princess Silence has a tongue."
"Leave me be," she snapped, trying to pull out of his iron grip.
"You shouldn't try to rob people. They don't like it," he said dryly.
Abby's stomach was flipping over with dread, but she couldn't tear her gaze away from her assailant's handsome face. His eyes were the color of the moss that covered the rocks in the stream near her house; there were crinkles in the corners, and she knew without a doubt that he had a wonderful smile. Her legs felt weak.
Before she could guess his intentions, he had swung his foot up on a rock and bent her over one powerful thigh.
"Please," she cried, getting frightened. "Please, sir, don't do this. I didn't mean it, I'm sorry."
"Yes, you will be," he replied implacably.